Elvira Arellano first made headlines more than 10 years ago when she became one of the most recognizable faces of the immigration debate. Her fight to stay in the U.S. to be with her then 7-year-old son garnered a lot of media attention — she was even named in TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year: People Who Mattered. Arellano first tried to enter the U.S. in 1997 but was detained at the border and deported. She returned just a few days later. By 2002, she was arrested for using a false Social Security number to get work. She was ultimately deported back to Mexico in 2007, where she stayed for seven years, despite a bill proposed by Rep. Luis Gutierrez to give her relief. In 2014, she crossed again and was immediately detained. Arellano was released because she had a four-month-old child with her. Since then, she has been fighting to stay in the U.S.
Immigration activist Elvira Arellano had her first check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement since President Trump took office.
Arellano was deported twice before coming back in 2014, as part of a protest in which dozens of deportees returned to the border to seek asylum. Since then, she has been fighting to to stay in the U.S.
Arellano’s oldest son, Saul, is 18 and a U.S. citizen.
“Ten years since I took sanctuary, time has proved to us that what we did was correct,” Arellano told Chicago Tribune.
Arellano (photographed with her two sons) continued, saying, “It’s necessary to protect families. It’s a place where families and children can go to wage that resistance.”
According to Arellano’s attorney, she faces life-threatening danger if she returns to Mexico.
ABC 7 Chicago reports that Arellano used her experience of being deported to advocate for undocumented Central American people in Mexico. Arellano’s attorney says her activism has led to death threats and several incidents where shots were fired at her during rallies.
After her meeting with ICE, the immigration activist announced she was granted a one-year extension on her work permit, allowing her to stay in the U.S.
“I don’t want other kids to be in the same situation where they see their parents getting separated from them with police cars pointing at them,” Saul recalled to ABC 7 Chicago about his mother’s 2007 deportation. “It still hits me, with flashbacks, where I do get anxious.”
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